Updated: Feb 4
Ecotherapy is a relatively new term to express an old concept, using nature's therapeutic power to heal oneself. Before research demonstrated how positively nature impacts people's well-being, we were already aware that a walk in a natural environment and being outdoor made us feel better. So, how works Ecotherapy and why is it becoming more popular now?
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
1. Firstly, what is Ecotherapy?
Ecotherapy is a new therapeutic method that combines ecology, mental health and physical well-being. Practised with a trained eco-therapist, it combines these three elements in a therapeutic framework, added to the bonus of enjoying being outdoor.
While being in contact with nature has always been known as beneficial, an ecotherapist helps develop insights into yourself and your surrounding.
This exploration will help us to become more mindful and widen the perception on multiple aspects of life.
2. How does the combination of ecology and mental health work?
We naturally relax when in contact with natural surroundings. A relaxed state supports the person's improvements and helps overcome painful feelings. An ecotherapist may use mindfulness, sense of place, positive psychology, and meditation to build the healing process's foundation.
We instinctively possess a natural awe for nature and its magnificent perfection, connecting to nature helps us feel part of a bigger picture. A fundamental human need is to feel connected to something greater than the self.
3. Is everyone positively affected by nature?
Apparently yes. Studies conducted on this topic in the last decades show an interesting result. The power of nature is restorative for everyone, regardless of age, gender, culture, and beliefs. The language spoken between nature and humans is universal. This perspective alone gives us already a sense of how powerful nature is.
There are no separations among people when it comes to the internal process about their relationship with nature.
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
4. How does this restorative language work?
There different theories about this topic. I believe that this has something to do with the fact that we evolved in nature, the most plausible one. Nature has been our ancestors' environment for thousands of years, and its impact on our genetic heritage cannot be denied. Even if some natural events can be scary, nature is where they got shelter and food from. All past cultures had great respect for nature and used to worship their environment and its manifestations.
Thanks to evolution, and the fact our ancestor had to come to term with the good and the challenges forces of nature, we instinctively trust and feel at home in nature.
5. Can Ecotherapy be practised only outdoor?
Outdoor is better, but not the only way. There are many options if you cannot go out to enjoy nature. One could be potting plants for your balcony, creating mandalas with material gathered in your garden, spending time with your pet, creating scrapbooks with natural elements. These are only a few of ways to practice Ecotherapy indoor. Moreover, watching pictures or videos about nature for only five minutes per day (increasing this time is even better) improves a sense of positivity and calmness.
These are only five good reasons to take advantage of nature's calming effect and begin to benefit from the positive impact it has on all of us.
“...and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?”
Vincent Willem van Gogh
Find your way to interact with nature!
When the power of nature is not enough, it doesn't mean there is something wrong with you; there is just the need for some extra help. Find a trusted friend or family member to talk to, but it might be a good idea to reach out to a professional that can help you if the struggle stays there.
At Build Your Safe Space, I offer two types of Ecotherapy services: Walk and Talk Therapy and Therapy in the Park; both services are practised outdoor. If the weather doesn't play along, the session can be postponed or moved to a face-to-face session.
If you wish to know a little more about Walk and Talk Therapy and Therapy in the Park, Subscribe to the website, you can have a first 30 minutes free online chat with me.